Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 13, 2017

all the light


This is a magnificent book, as has already been affirmed countless times. So what can I add? The answer is that I can share what I learned from reading it, with the goal of improving my own writing.

Consider for example the meticulous sequencing of scenes, whereby Doerr often requires the reader to hold a prior scene in memory until the thread is picked up much much later. In lesser hands, this could be infuriating, but here it works brilliantly, and the prior action comes back easily when later invoked. I want to study this book to understand how Doerr has done this and why it works.

Consider also the many different approaches Doerr uses to structure his mostly short scenes, often in delightfully unexpected ways. Consider the careful choice of exactly the right word to describe a character or a setting. It is not likely that this happened in first drafts. It results from an unhurried process of writing, editing, thinking and adjusting.

It is quite understandable to me that Doerr took 10 years to craft this novel. He must have read and re-read many times, repeatedly changing words, plot lines, and scene sequences to achieve the effect he was seeking. To me both the story and the writing of it are inspiring.


3 Responses to “* Lew’s review of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE”

  1. Judie Amsel said

    I’m about one third of the way through. His writing is superb and the extremely short chapters irk well. I think his full descriptions of scenes that Marie-Laure inhabits but cannot see adds an extra dimention. I do find the chronically jumps distracting, though. Thanks for your review.

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